06 August 2005

Mobile phone subscribers in China

At the beginning of 2005, China counted 340M mobile phone subscribers (or 26% of the total population). This represents 63M new subscribers in a year, and the single largest mobile market in the world.

Source, Ministry of Information Industry of China (2005) via emarketer The wireless market in China: vast and varied (24-05-05).

05 August 2005

Broadband access in India

In India, 2 in 10.000 people have a broadband Internet connection. On the the other hand, in South Korea, the most high-speed networked country in the world, 1 in 4 people have a broadband connection, from Reuters Dishnet aims for India-wide WiFi coverage in two years (04-05-05)

21 January 2005

Internet Adoption - China

The China Internet Network Information Centre reports a 6-month 8% increase in the number of Internet users in China to 94 M by the end 2004 (via Reuters), with 37.6% more Broadband subscribers to 42.8 M.

Internet adoption in China has reached 7.2% of the population. This compares with a world average of 12.7% and neighbouring Hong Kong 51% (3.3 M Internet users) and Macao 46% (201 k Internet users).

19 January 2005

Jeffrey Cole on the impact of Broadband access

This is an excerpt of Jeffrey Cole's presentation at the iMedia Summit in December 2004, entitled New Internet trends: changing media use, declining credibility and the rise of broadband. Jeffrey Cole describes the transformation in Internet use brought about when an always-on broadband connection becomes available at home.

Jeffrey Cole, now Director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg School for Communication, is the founder of the World Internet Project: a longitudinal study, initiated four years ago, of the way Internet use is transforming the way we live in 20 countries. In the U.S., the project surveys a representative sample of 2,000 people every year to follow the evolution of their technological equipment, their habits, the activities they carry out online, their communication patterns and their media usage.

First trend we're going to look at is something that you can't say any more simply than this: Broadband changes evrything. First just a statistic about broadband - right now we're on the verge of the majority of homes becoming broadband homes. Last year about 46% of homes connected through broadband. Right about nowx we're crossing the line that the majority of homes connect through broadband.

I actually believe there's a bigger gap between dial-up use and broadband use that there is between non-use and dial-up use. That's how significant I think broadband is. Fascinatingly to us, four years ago when we started talking to consumers, we found that 40% of those who ordered broadband at home were not aware they were getting an always-on or a direct connection. They thought they were just getting a really fast dial-up: You connected the old way and then when you connected it just was really fast. And while they got used to the speed, they bought it for the speed, the speed was addictive and they got used to it immediately. But it was always on, so the direct connection changed their relationship to the Internet far more significantly than the speed did.

We find dial-up to be this disruptive technology. Well, broadband is a very integrative technology. And what I mean by that, when we say that dial-up is disruptive, the average dial-up user is on one, two to three times a day, with exceptions, for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. When they dial-up they usually go into some other part of the house, towards the back, into a den, into a bedroom, into an office. Of course there are exceptions. And generally, dial-up time is time spent away from the family, although they can be around them, and time spent away from television, although the television can be on if people do multitask from the beginning.

Dial-up users view dialing-up as a big deal. They frequently write down on the back of an envelope or a Post-It Note the things they want to do when they log-on. And if they log-off forgetting to do those things, they get irritated at themselves. Even though the act of dialing-up only takes about 30 seconds, they view it as a big deal, or as we in the scientific community call it, a "BFD".

On the other hand, broadband is a really integrative technology. The average broadband user at home is on 20, 30, 40 times a day, two to three minutes at a time, with lots of exceptions. And, when they go online, it doesn't displace other activities such as family conversation or television viewing. It occurs in between those activities. It fits into the rythms of the day. It isn't as likely to displace anything because they're only on for two minutes at a time, not 20 or 30 minutes of dial-up. It doesn't displace family conversation. Conversation occurs around the Internet time on broadband. 

Broadband adoption - Russia - 1.0

PointTopic provides a very interesting overview of the broadband market in Russia and of its specificities

the residential sector is dominated at present by the informal "Home Networks" which use Ethernet LANs to link up buildings, housing developments and sometimes whole neighbourhoods to "broadband" access (2 Mbps up to the buildings is considered the average by local observers). These operators account for some 75% residential users, or some 550,000 by end 2004, connected households throughout Russia. They are generally very low cost

Quotes a Russian consultant, the overview  puts the number of broadband users to about 3,5 M in 3rd quarter 2004 (a broadband user uses broadband at least once a week, over a connection of at least a theoretical speed of 200 Kbps). Most users are in the business sector, but demand in the residential sector is strong (e.g. in Moscow, subscriptions to MTU-Intel ADSL grew from 4k to 20k in the first eight months of 2004). Analysts estimate xDSL residential lines to be around 125k, of which 100k in Moscow. Over 2004 has taken place a significant price decrease: cheaper DSL tariffs have gone below $30.

DSL subscribers in 2004 - worldwide

DSL Forum and Point Topic data (presented in Global DSL soars 40 percent in first three quarters 2004) estimate the total number of DSL subscribers to be 85,3 M worlwide. A year earlier they were 54,6 M (+56% growth).

Whereas in the US cable modem subscribers outnumber DSL ones (over 19 M vs. 12,6 M), in the rest of the world DSL subscribers are about twice more numerous than cable modem ones. Very large differences in DSL adoption exist between regions:

EU, 26,5 M
Asia Pacific, 24 M
North America, 15 M
South & South-East Asia, 14,6 M
Latin America, 2,8 M
Other Europe, 1,2 M
Middle East & Africa, 860k

18 January 2005

On the assessment of digital literacy

The design of tests such as the "Information and Communications Technology literacy assessment" - a subject developed by Tom Zeller Jr in the NYT article dated 17-01-05 Measuring literacy in a world gone digital  - rests on normative assumptions about what is a proficient use of the Internet. The selection of tasks and their measures are a direct reflection of these assumptions. Some tasks assess what can be considered skill-level abilities: create a spreadsheet; create an e-mail and manage an inbox; manipulate tables and charts; search and gather material on a topic. Others deal with higher-level cognitive tasks such as organise, interpret and verify information from heterogeneous sources.

In an earlier time, information came, really, from only one place: the University Library. Now it is all part of a giant continuum, and often the student is the sole arbiter of what is good information, what is bad information and what all the shades are in between (Lorie Roth, Assistant vice chancellor of academic programs for the California State University).   

The dominant underlying usage model seems to be that of an Internet user who's a receiver/recipient of information confronted with the problem of selecting and evaluating the formidable volume of very diverse information accessible today. A radically different approach to ICT Literacy would follow from an alternative reference usage model where the user is a sender of information as much as a receiver; a producer as much as a recipient. This alternative approach would have two main implications. It would set active involvement in the Information Society as one of the criteria; and would require quite different basic tasks at both the skill- and cognitive-levels, tasks more focused on publication, participation and sharing, and less on individual information processing activities.

10 January 2005

What you see is what you ask - more on Internet usage in the USA

Year 2000
Harris Interactive  started polling online US adults on their online activities by means of a nationwide telephone survey:

Thinking about what you do online, how often do you use the Internet, the World Wide Web or an online service to......: very often, often, sometimes, rarely, never

The results of the end 2004 survey (between the 9th and 14th of November)  are very much consistent with what is known.

The Internet's single most used function is sending and receiving email (66%, with 30% very often and 36% often).

Among browsing activities, the most frequently cited is to do research for work or school (46%, 18% very often, 28% often), followed by to check on news (43%, 16% very often, 27% often), to get info about a hobby or special interest (40%, 15% very often, 25% often), to gather info about products and services (38%, 14% very often, 24% often).

Two activities have grown significantly since the previous year:

  • to make travel plans or reservations (+ 11%, to 26%)
  • to look for information about health or diseases (+ 6%, to 21%)

All the other activities remain stable. 

Does that mean that online behaviour  has matured and become routine? Or is it that these surveys are missing important shifts and changes in the way the Internet is used?

It is unfortunate that the categories of online activity Harris Interactive used in 2000 have not evolved much over the years to include web publishing, participation in communities, collaborative projects and rating systems. The Internet is not like traditional top-down mass media. And its users shouldn't be reduced to consumers who access, search and find information; download games or software; go through payments and other administrative procedures. The issue is that not only Harris Interactive, but the large majority of surveys of online activities, use these same "passive" categories.

Internet use and sociability - USA

December 2004
The Stanford Center for the Quantitative Study of Society published the report Ten years after the birth of the Internet, how do Americans use the Internet in their daily lives? One particular finding has attracted commentators' attention: increasing online time reduces face-to-face time with family.

we were very interested to discover that the increase in Internet use over the last 10 years has eaten into television viewing less than expected. Time online seems to come more out of family discretionary time (Norman Nie, director of SIQQS)

This finding is taken to support the hypothesis that "increased Internet use reduces the time spent socializing and other activities". This conclusion however runs against another significant finding, that is, that communication is the online activity people engage in most. Using the Internet seems to be reducing one form of communication, that is face-to-face, while augmenting other forms, i.e. Internet-mediated communications. This creates opportunities to extend face-to-face communication, as IM does both in the workplace and among teenagers; to expand one's social networks (20% of the Internet users communicate with someone they have never met in person) and to bring new meanings to face-to-face encounters. Even if Internet use reducesd face-to-face sociability, it wouldn't necessarily have a negative impact on overall socialbility.

June 2004
A representative sample of 4,839 18 to 64 year-old Americans was contacted and asked whether they had used the Internet the previous day. The 1,518 who had done so described the activities they had carried out at six, randomly selected, hours of that day, following the Time Diary methodology developed at SIQSS.

How long are Internet users online?
They spend a significant part of the day online, on average nearly 3 hours per day, of which one hour is spent at work.   

In what activities do Internet users engage?
Time online is mainly for communication: email, IM and chat take up 57% of the time spent online. Of this time, work-related communication accounts for a third; friends for nearly a third; family for about a sixth. Browsing time is shared between playing games (20.3%), surfing the web (15.4%), shopping and selling (10%), news (7.6%), work (6.9%) and planning travel (5.0%). Other activities account for less than 5.0% of the time spent browsing.

Does Internet use reduce TV watching?
On average, all respondents watched TV for 2 hours per day, whereas Internet users did so for one hour and 45 minutes. TV watching goes down and Internet use up among people with a Bachelor degree or higher, people between age 18 and 44,  and among students.      

06 January 2005

Internet Adoption in South-East Asia - Thailand 1.0

In Thailand, Internet users are about 10% of the total population. They are concentrated in Bangkok and other urban areas. Expensive hardware, low computer literacy, high telecommunications and Internet access fees in a country where income levels are still relatively low are invoked to explain limited and concentrated Internet use (see, Centre for International Development, Harvard).

How many Internet users in Thailand?
In Internet Use in Thailand, Poonsri Vate-U-Lan from Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok, quotes a household survey carried out in March-June 2003  by two public institutions: NECTEC and NSTDA (see, Internet Information Research Centre, Thailand). The survey shows a steady increase in the number of Internet users, of approximately 30% per year: 

  • 2003 = 9.56% of total population (approx. 63 M)
  • 2002 = 7.38%
  • 2001 = 5.64%

Internet vs. telephony
According to the ITU Asia-Pacific Telecommunications Indicators 2003, Thailand has a broad telephone subscribers base:

  • fixed-lines subscribers are close to 32 M, corresponding to nearly 50% of the total population
  • mobile subscribers are nearly 25 M, or 40% of the population

On the contrary, the Internet users and subscribers base is much narrower. Internet users are close to 7 M, or 11% of the population. Internet subscribers are 2.5 M , of whom 45.000, or 1.9% have a broadband connection.

Internet adoption in South-East Asia
Drawing from Nua Internet Surveys (2003) in the region, Poonsri Vate-U-Lan positions Thailand in the middle range among South-East Asian countries.

High adoption rate

Singapore at 51.48%
Malaysia at 25.15%

Medium adoption rate
Thailand between 9.5 and 11%
Brunei at 9.97%
Philippines at 7.77%

Low and very low adoption rate
Indonesia at 1.93%
Vietnam at 0.49%
Laos at 0.17%
Cambodia at 0.08%
Myanmar = 0.02%

Further analysis of this data shows that the country's per capita income appears to be the best economic predictor of Internet adoption (e.g. Thailand GDP 2.044 $ - Indonesia 860$, source ITU report cited above).

Who are Internet users in Thailand?
They are young: more than half are 20-29 years old (53.2% in 2002) ; followed by 30-39 (above 20%) and 10-19 (below 20%).

They live in the Bangkok region (62.6%) or in other urban areas (21.8%).

They have high education: University graduate (62.3%) and High school (16.7%).

Over the years, women are becoming more numerous among Internet users than men (53.4% in 2002, 51.2% in 2001, 49.2% in 2000).

They access the Internet from multiple points: home (46.7%); office (31.6%); school (13.7%) and Internet cafes (7.5%). And most of them (83.2%) own a PC.

Note: the data above come from NECTEC annual online survey, which started in 1999. Internet users are invited to take the survey by an advertising banner embedded in various popular websites. As such it suffers from self-selection bias and should be taken as an interesting description rather than an accurate representation of the Internet users community in Thailand.

Two interesting articles to know more about Internet in Thailand are :

Bridging the Digital Divide: a case study of CATNET Nationwide Internet kiosks, by Rattanawan Rattakul. At the end of 2002, Thailand had deployed 1400 public Internet access points. A survey was carried out to know who used these Internet access points, how and for what uses.

A critical analysis of the adoption and utilization of the Internet in Thailand for educational purposes, by Noppadol Prammanee retraces the story of the development of the Internet in Thailand and gives a view on the local government Internet policies and initiatives.

21 December 2004

Internet adoption - Egypt 1.0

The Arab Advisors Group estimates that the number of Internet users in Egypt (Population circa 73 M) was 1.94 M by end 2003 (growth projection is 5.6 M by end 2008) and the number of Internet accounts was 647,000 by end 2003 (projection of 1.9 M by end 2008).

The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MCIT) has launched several initiatives to accelerate the growth of the Internet market, by making the service affordable to end users. The Free Internet Initiative, which was launched in January 2002, has enabled users to access the Internet from any phone line, without the need for a dial-up subscription, and for the cost of a local phone call, which is EGP 1.23 ($ 0.2) per hour. The total number of unique diallers has reached 1,013,459 by end August 2004, with a total of 782,011,194 minutes.

A portrait of Broadband users - UK

A Demos project Broadband Britain: the end of asymmetry? (via the BBC) studied the effect of Broadband on people's Internet usage.

The report finds that British Broadband users take a more active role online. They are many to:

  • upload content and have personal sites (25%)
  • post something on the web everyday, e.g. comments, opinions, image (20%)
  • carry out self-diagnose and take online education

Online expression and participation are in integral part of broadband users' Internet life.

Internet and Broadband adoption 1.0 - UK

According to panel-based National Statistics (via EuroTelcoblog), 12.9 M (52%) of the 28.7 M British households had an Internet access in Q3 2004.

Internet individual users (home, work, elsewhere)
In October 2004, 61% of British adults said they had accessed the Internet in the three previous months.

On the other hand, 34% had never used the Internet. Among them, some said that :

  • they didn't want to use it, had no use or no interest for it (43%)
  • they had no Internet connection (42%)
  • they lacked the knowledge or confidence (37%)

Non-Internet users were also asked to choose a statement that described their relationship to the Internet. The majority (54%) selected: "I have not really considered using the Internet before and I am not likely to in the future". This group corresponds to 19% of all British adults.

Internet adoption is not homogeneous. It is close to 65% in the London and South-East regions, below 50% in Wales and the North-East, and between 50 and 60% in the other regions, with increased adoption in the last two years in Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North-West.

Internet Users Age
Internet adoption is highest among 16-24 years-old (83%) and lowest among 65 and older (15%). In the past two years, the largest increase though was in the 45-54 age group (+13%).

ISP subscribers
There is a 4.3% increase in the number of active subscriptions between October 2003 and 2004. Of all active connections, 36% are permanent, or Broadband. They were 20% a year earlier.

UK Broadband household
Assuming that the ISP subscribers statistics do not included businesses, the number of Broadband households in the UK corresponds roughly to 4.6 M.

13 December 2004

Mobile phone subscribers, fixed lines, Internet Users - Worldwide

The International Telecommunication Union (via Reuters) reports stunning adoption numbers.

By mid-2004, the number of mobile phone subscriptions was nearly 1.5 billion, or the double with respect to 2000. Developing countries account for this sharp growth, or 56% of all mobile subscribers and 79% of overall growth since 2000:

  • China had 310 M mobile phone subscribers by mid-2004
  • Russia had 60 M subscribers, with a 80% growth in a year
  • India had 44.5 M subscribers, with a 25% increase by Q3 2004

In the mean-time, the number of fixed-lines has increased from 1 billion in 2000 to 1.185 billion this year.

Internet users worldwide have expanded from around 400 M in 2000 to nearly 700 M by mid-2004. 

12 December 2004

Broadband subscribers - Worldwide

According to Quantum Web (via Digital Media Europe), there were 128 M broadband subscribers across the world at the end of Q4 2004. This represents an 9.3% growth in a quarter. Close to 90% of these subscriptions (115 M) were residential.

The largest broadband region is Asia, with 53 M subscribers, followed by the Americas with 43 M and Europe with 33 M. The Middle East-Africa region has nearly 1 M broadband subscribers and the strongest quarterly growth of 11.06%; followed by the Americas (9.85%), Europe (9.22%), and Asia (8.46%). According to the Telecom Research firm, falling prices, especially in Europe (- 23% on average since the beginning of the year), have contributed to increasing Broadband subscriptions.

09 December 2004

Internet Usage in Africa - Somalia

Since 1991, Somalia has been living without national institutions. Recent presidential elections by a transitional Parliament will hopefully lead to a democratic normalization. In Mogadishu Telecoms thriving in lawless Somalia, BBC News journalist Joseph Winter describes how three telecoms - Telcom, Nationlink and Hormuud - have managed to emerge in this context and to operate at relatively low prices: 10$ monthly flat fee; International calls at 50 cents per minute. They have joint forces in the ISP Global Internet Company which mostly serves Internet cafes in and around Mogadishu. Internet cafes are extremely popular. One-hour web surfing costs 50 cents. E-mail is the killer app as people can use their own language; have many family and friends abroad - the Somali Diaspora being very large - with whom they keep in touch and do business. What I found very strong in the article are a series of portraits of Somali Internet Cafe users who describe how they came to use e-mail and Internet and how they usually use them. I warmly recommend you to read these portraits, and look at the vivid pictures that accompany the text.

Internet Adoption in Africa - Botswana

In Botswana Internet usage a meagre 5 per cent, an article published on 30th November 2004 by the government DailyNews Online, Pelonomi Venson, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, presents her views on the development of Internet usage in Botswana. Botswana, which has built a fiber-optic telecom network and is experiencing strong mobile uptake, has 5% Internet users, on a total population of about 1.6 M people. They were 2% in 2001.

To explain what she takes to be a low adoption rate, the Ministry invokes the high cost of PCs, lack of electricity in most rural areas and high telephone bills due to dial-up Internet access. And to tackle these issues, she cites initiatives from Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) to reduce wholesale bandwidth prices for ISP; from Botsnet to offer a connected PC Bundle; from the government, ISP and the corporate world to deploy on-line services "tailored to the needs of the population".

01 December 2004

Telecommunications and Internet in Myanmar

An insight into how Telecommunications and Internet work in military-ruled Myanmar comes from Communication facilities lacking in Myanmar:

Internet was limited to big cities and was under strict government control. No one could access free e-mail sites and tourists had to get a new ID from the state-owned service provider at a cost of $8 if they had to send mail.

And a reminder that information doesn't circulate freely always and everywhere:

Journalists, who managed to send stories from Mandalay, the country's second largest city, had to allow authorities to go through their stories and one of the Indian scribes was even asked to write in English and not in Hindi before the fax could be sent.

Related Links